Site Maintenance


As a result of recent changes and site maintenance, I seem to be missing a number of posts over about a one-year period, many of which were mine, and possibly hundreds of posts from my esteemed co-blogger, Courtney.

Help would be appreciated, as well as a little patience until I get this rectified with WordPress.

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Organizational Culture and Drones

I really didn’t want to knock on the US Air Force…they’ve had a bad week.  First, we re-visited the unfortunate incident in which a C-17, bound for MacDill AFB, accidentally landed on a much smaller runway 4 1/2 miles away.

Bonus: With General Mattis aboard.

Then there were the results of the Great Porn Hunt of 2013, in which Air Force officials documented 27,000 “inappropriate or offensive items” in the work areas of airmen.  And that’s not even counting the nose art in the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB.

cute girl with american bomber nose art

In the Air Force’s defense, anything that happened in the Army Air Corps doesn’t count…

And if that weren’t bad enough, it seems the Air Force’s leadership might want to address the, erm, hobbies of some of their airmen.

So perhaps the Air Force thought it could score a good public affairs coup by allowing PBS to interview a few Predator operators at Holloman AFB, NM for its Nova special, “Rise of the Drones“.

Meet Captain Chad.  Not a Predator operator, mind you, but a Predator pilot.  See the flight suit?

Captain Chad

For security purposes, we need to protect the identities of our Predator pilots in case they’re shot down behind enemy lines…or something.  Or because terrorists are everywhere.  Well, maybe not terrorists.  But you have to admit those asshats from Code Pink do get kind of annoying at times.

At any rate, in keeping with proud Air Force traditions, we’re still going to paint the full names of both pilots on the sides of the aircraft.  I hope insurgents don’t think peel off that 100 mph tape.

Names on the side of the Predator 2

Still, Predator pilots work in the shadows.  We’d hate for their identities to be exposed.  Unlike their manned aircraft brethren, identified by name in the same Nova special.

Full name

Hey, manned aviators are people, too.

Culture plays a profound role in any organization, and nowhere is that more evident in the way in which the US Air Force and the US Army treat their pilots. Operators. Whatever.

The US Army’s MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAV is largely derived from its older brother, the MQ-1 Predator, in use by both the US Air Force and the CIA.  Both are similar in performance, armament, and capabilities.  Yet we see a massive difference in personnel selection, training programs, and even benefits afforded to the aircrews.

The Air Force refers to its personnel as pilots, almost always commissioned officers.  Thanks to satellite links, pilots can operate the aircraft from anywhere in the world–as such, Air Force pilots rarely deploy outside the United States.  The Ground Control Station features a “stick and rudder” design like that of an airplane.

Contrast this with operators in the Army, almost always enlisted soldiers or warrant officers.  Invariably, Army operators must deploy with their airframes, despite the fact that satellite links allow the aircraft to be operated from any location.  And a Universal Control Station allows operators to fly the aircraft with a trackball to select altitudes, airspeed and routes.  And landings?  Automatic.

As technology matures, it will be interesting to see how each of the services trains, selects, and treats their UAV operators.

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An Open Response to “Why the U.S. Military Needs More Leaders with Technical Educations”


A brief summary of Major Bodenhamer’s position…

In case you missed Major Jonathan A. Bodenhamer’s missive at Small Wars Journal, let me summarize it for you, dear readers:

  •  Contrary to the claims (his word, “propaganda”) of Army senior leaders, the US Army would benefit from more officers having a strong background in hard science and engineering skills.
  • To underscore this point, Major Bodenhamer draws upon his his strong background in mechanical engineering.  This knowledge base served him well throughout twelve years of military service–five of which were spent either studying for a masters’ degree in mechanical engineering  or teaching mechanical engineering at West Point, accounting for nearly half his time spent in non-PME assignments.
  • Major Bodenhamer transferred to the Acquisitions Corps, and currently serves as a Product Manager for the JLTV.  A much-needed assignment, for sure, and one which will put his engineering background to good use; but admittedly, not a high strategic vantage point.

In short, psychology majors noted that Major Bodenhamer appears to be approaching military problems from his own unique perspective as a mechanical engineer.  Meanwhile, historians noted that his concluding quote, wrongly attributed to Thucydides, was actually written by Sir William Francis Butler.  And, of course, English majors were quick to point out that this blunder, while amusing, did not fit the definition of irony.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit–Major Bodenhamer’s mechanical engineering experience has paid dividends for the US Army.  For two centuries, West Point graduates–traditionally, from engineering backgrounds–have put their degrees to good use in construction projects, both on the American frontier, and across the world.

Instead of focusing on a particular degree field, let’s concentrate on what military leaders really need:  the ability to solve problems, which stems from an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Let’s take the example of a program developer for a major weapons system.  Certainly, engineering skills are important.  But weapons development rarely takes place in a vacuum–there are important economic, geopolitical, and domestic political forces which shape weapons development and procurement.  Though program managers in the Army’s Acquisition Corps may not see themselves as strategic leaders, strategy often drives procurement.

First, weapons specifications are often the result of distinct strategic policy goals, doctrine, and indeed, geography.  The design of fighter aircraft during the Cold War, for instance, often reflected each side’s strategic culture (page 101).  Soviet fighters were designed primarily as point-defense interceptors, serving close to their main base of operation, often supported by surface-to-air missiles and radar coverage.  As such, the geopolitical situation of the Soviet Union and its proxy, the Peoples’ Republic of Vietnam, drove the design of fighter craft.

American fighters, by contrast, operated under an offensive doctrine, which drove the design of fighters such as the F-15 (and, by extension, the F-22).  Expected to penetrate Soviet Airspace, they required long range, large missile loads, and their own independent radar systems.

As such, Soviet-designed aircraft, such as the MiG-21, tended to be more maneuverable than their heavier American counterparts during the Vietnam era.  The Americans’ woes were only compounded, as the Ault Report revealed that air-to-air missiles of the era were notoriously ineffective.  Losses to maneuverable fighters and surface-to-air missiles meant that American fighters needed long-range, large missile loads, independent radar systems, plus high maneuverability, air-to-air cannons, and ultimately, stealth capabilities.  A broad understanding of statistical analysis, international relations, geopolitics, and engineering greatly aided designers working on the F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

Think domestic politics doesn’t play a role in weapons procurement?  Think again: it’s no coincidence that major weapons systems are produced in nearly all Congressional districts. Do economic interests play a role?  You betcha.  Just ask your friends as PEO-Aviation how difficult it is to get AAI and General Atomics to work together on a common Universal Ground Control Station.

And let’s not forget, the humanities teach students to write clearly, succinctly, and without needless obfuscation.  That’s something most PEOs seem to have neglected.

(Pssst…this history major has no clue what this video is about.  And I’ve watched it 10 times…)

Finally, on a cheerful note, I will add with one last observation, culled from my study of history.  During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy was wise to reject the advice of his top generals, who failed to understand the complexities of international relations.  Only because he rejected the advice of his generals are we alive to this day.

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Info Age Arms Race

Dr Michael Horowitz – the cat that put the ‘option’ in ‘Adoption-Capacity’ theory in the essential “The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for Internat’l Politics” shares that PACRIM is on the verge of an Information Age arms race:

In East Asia, more multi-polar defense production capabilities could increase insecurity, particularly among states with ongoing territorial disputes, such as China and Japan (Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands), Russia and Japan (Kurile Islands), Japan and South Korea (Takeshima/Dokdo Islands) and China and some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (South China Sea).

In the worst case, a renewed capacity to produce advanced military capabilities could encourage a classic regional arms race. The uneven spread of relevant technologies, especially armed UAVs, could further heighten insecurity.

Also check GsGf’s “Info Age Warfare” (watch out for that ‘heightened insecurity” link) and of course, the piece that launched a thousand hits – Rethinking Strategy’s “Shi Lang!”

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Info Age Arms Race

Dr Michael Horowitz – the cat that put the ‘option’ in ‘Adoption-Capacity’ theory in the essential “The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for Internat’l Politics” shares that PACRIM is on the verge of an Information Age arms race:

In East Asia, more multi-polar defense production capabilities could increase insecurity, particularly among states with ongoing territorial disputes, such as China and Japan (Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands), Russia and Japan (Kurile Islands), Japan and South Korea (Takeshima/Dokdo Islands) and China and some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (South China Sea).

In the worst case, a renewed capacity to produce advanced military capabilities could encourage a classic regional arms race. The uneven spread of relevant technologies, especially armed UAVs, could further heighten insecurity.

Also check GsGf’s “Info Age Warfare” (watch out for that ‘heightened insecurity” link) and of course, the piece that launched a thousand hits – Rethinking Strategy’s “Shi Lang!”

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The War on VFFs. This, too, shall pass.

I’ve been ardently striving to avoid the turmoil surrounding the recent ban on Vibram Five Finger shoes.  That’s no exaggeration, either.  Yours truly has proven most recalcitrant in the face of pressure to compose a blog post about this issue:

Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 3:42 PM
To: Burke, Crispin J CPT MIL USA
Subject: FW: PT Uniform Clarification (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Please tell me this will hit the blog.

But, with the controversy hitting The Best Defense, Kings of War, and even the Washington Post, I felt it was time to break my silence on the issue

Full disclosure: I’ve been a VFF fanatic for the last year.  Dr. Thomas Rid can attest to that.  My only complaint thus far has been that the phenomenon hasn’t quite caught on in Germany.  Indeed, my VFFs have gotten more than a few quizzical looks from the locals.

These people think I dress funny.

But despite their comfort, utility, and legion of dedicated fans, VFFs are verboten as per Army regs.  Last year, I was actually kicked out of a weight room for wearing VFFs in civilian workout clothes; the justification being that VFFs “aren’t really shoes”.  (Of course, this brings up the philosophical debate:  what constitutes “shoeness”?  Ponder that.)

But certainly, this isn’t the first time the Army’s banned a useful piece of equipment.  And in many cases, Army leadership eventually comes to its senses.

When I was a new lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division, Camelbaks were off-limits, despite the fact that they were, by that time, standard issue.  Actually, that’s somewhat misleading:  our brigade command sergeant major invoked a little-known clause in 82nd Airborne Division Pamphlet 600-2 and forbade soldiers from wearing Camelbaks on their, you know, backs.  Instead, soldiers during a JRTC rotation carried their Camelbaks in their left hand everywhere they walked.  After all, it would be unbecoming of the 82nd Airborne to not salute during a JRTC rotation.  A few years later, you’d be hard-pressed to find a set of body armor that didn’t have a Camelbak attached to it.

The same goes for the black fleece jackets soldiers wear during the winter months.  Initially designed to be worn underneath a Gore-Tex parka, the fleece jacket proved a comfortable outer garment.  Unfortunately, soldiers who donned the black fleece jacket as a standalone item of clothing were deemed “wronger than two choir boys fucking“.  (My response that there wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with two people taking part in mutually consensual activities wasn’t exactly helping my cause any.)

Fortunately, a few Army senior leaders were caught on camera wearing the black fleece jacket over their Desert Combat Uniforms (DCUs), paving the way for soldiers to stay warm in relative comfort.  (Sadly, this was General Tommy Franks’ one saving grace)

My fellow VFFers, remain patient.  Time (and history) is on our side.  If the Army can nix the beret, they can finally permit VFFs.  We shall overcome.

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Farewell, Mr. Secretary

Finally, as I was contemplating this moment, I thought about something my wife Becky told me in January 2005, when I was asked to be the first Director of National Intelligence.  I was really wrestling with the decision and finally told her she could make it a lot easier if she just said she didn’t want to go back to D.C.  She thought a moment and replied, “we have to do what you have to do.”  That is something military spouses have said in one form or another a million times since 9/11, upon learning their loved one received a deployment notice or is considering another tour of service.

Just under five years ago, when I was approached by the same president again to serve, Becky’s response was the same.  As much as she loved Texas A&M and Aggie sports, and our home in Washington state, and as much as she could do without another stint in this Washington, she made it easy for me to say “yes” to this job. To do what I had to do, to answer the call to serve when so much was at stake for America and her sons and daughters in two wars.  Well, Becky, we’re really going home this time.  Your love and support has sustained me and kept me grounded since the day we first met on a blind date in Bloomington, Indiana, 45 years ago.

Shortly, I will walk out of my E-ring office for the very last time as defense secretary.  It is empty of all my personal items and mementos, but will still have, looming over my desk, the portraits of two of my heroes and role models, Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and George C. Marshall.  It is from Marshall that I take a closing thought first delivered more than six decades ago in the opening years of the Cold War.  Addressing new university graduates, Marshall extolled what he considered the great “musts” of that generation: They were, he said, “the development of a sense of responsibility for world order and security, the development of a sense of the overwhelming importance of the country’s acts, and failures to act.”  Now, as when Marshall first uttered those words, a sense of America’s exceptional global responsibilities and the importance of what we do or do not do remain the “great musts” of this dangerous new century.  It is the sacred duty entrusted to all of us privileged to serve in positions of leadership and responsibility.  A duty we should never forget or take lightly.  A duty I have every confidence you will all continue to fulfill.

Thank you.  God bless our military and the country they so nobly serve.

–Secretary Robert M. Gates, 30 June 2011

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Russia attempts to build a nuclear carrier. Try not to laugh.

Just when I was sick of the hype surrounding Shi Lang, China’s first attempt at naval aviation, I discovered that Russia is working towards building its first nuclear-powered carrier, capable of sustained operations at sea, by 2023.


This is, of course, the same Russia that’s managed to build a grand total of 24 Su-33 naval strike fighters and 12 Su-35 air superiority fighters since the end of the Cold War.  (Sadly, Russia’s military-industrial complex is the only organization in the world that makes America’s defense industry look productive)

And let’s not forget that Russia, traditionally one of the weaker maritime powers, has but one carrier, perennially plagued by maintenance problems.  Not to mention, the crew of the Admiral Kuznetsov–with half the fighter compliment of an American Nimitz carrier–seems to be decades behind the United States in training.

Though the United States has an unprecedented advantage in fleet carriers, perhaps we might benefit from “light carriers“, equipped for littoral missions or humanitarian assistance.

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Not another “last throes” moment…

A baffling DoD statement regarding the attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel reminded me, ever-so-eerily, of boasts of an “insurgency in its last throes” from the Iraq War in 2005.  Just replace “Iraq” with “Afghanistan” during this exchange with former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan:

Q Scott, is the insurgency in Iraq in its ‘last throes’?

McCLELLAN: Terry, you have a desperate group of terrorists in Iraq that are doing everything they can to try to derail the transition to democracy. The Iraqi people have made it clear that they want a free and democratic and peaceful future. And that’s why we’re doing everything we can, along with other countries, to support the Iraqi people as they move forward….

Q But the insurgency is in its last throes?

McCLELLAN: The Vice President talked about that the other day — you have a desperate group of terrorists who recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free Iraq will be a significant blow to their ambitions.

Q But they’re killing more Americans, they’re killing more Iraqis. That’s the last throes?

McCLELLAN: Innocent — I say innocent civilians. And it doesn’t take a lot of people to cause mass damage when you’re willing to strap a bomb onto yourself, get in a car and go and attack innocent civilians. That’s the kind of people that we’re dealing with. That’s what I say when we’re talking about a determined enemy.

Q Right. What is the evidence that the insurgency is in its last throes?

McCLELLAN: I think I just explained to you the desperation of terrorists and their tactics.

Q What’s the evidence on the ground that it’s being extinguished?

McCLELLAN: Terry, we’re making great progress to defeat the terrorist and regime elements. You’re seeing Iraqis now playing more of a role in addressing the security threats that they face. They’re working side by side with our coalition forces. They’re working on their own. There are a lot of special forces in Iraq that are taking the battle to the enemy in Iraq. And so this is a period when they are in a desperate mode.

Q Well, I’m just wondering what the metric is for measuring the defeat of the insurgency.

McCLELLAN: Well, you can go back and look at the Vice President’s remarks. I think he talked about it.

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WOI Strategy Contest: George Washington

Abraham Rash, a fellow classmate from my college days, weighs in a post compiled entirely on his iPhone.  That might not be as hard-core as capturing a British fort on Christmas morning, but it’s pretty damn close.

Take it away, Abe:

According to Liddell-Hartt, grand strategy is defined as:

“…[the coordination and direction of] all the resources of a nation, or band of nations, towards the attainment of the political object of the war – the goal defined by fundamental policy.”

This is different from mere strategy, which the OED defines as:

“The art of projecting and directing the larger military movements and operations of a campaign.

Usually distinguished from tactics, which is the art of handling forces in battle or in the immediate presence of the enemy.”

In short, strategy is what a general uses to win a campaign; grand strategy is what a commander-in-chief uses to win a war.

The OED defines great(est) as:

“of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average.”

In the context of grand strategy, this would mean that the greatest grand strategist is not just the most talented or the most famous, but rather the most effective; ie, they are the grand strategist who achieved the most result with the least resources, and whose results were the most dependent upon their own personal input. Finally, they are not just a theoretician, but a practitioner, for it is surely in the field that the greatest proof of grand strategy is found.

This distinction is a fine one, but it is very real, and creates a highly exclusionary set of conditions under which an individual might qualify as the “greatest” grand strategist. Unlike the greatest strategist, who might literally be anyone (even non-military), the greatest grand strategist at a minimum must be someone who:

1.  Is a historically documented individual or small group (sorry, no legislative bodies, no semi-mythical legends)

2.  Who waged a war (no armchair general can ever be the greatest)

3.  Won (the greatest don’t lose)

4.  Who bore or shared in overall command responsibility during that war

5.  And was irreplaceable (ie, if they died or were captured, a positive outcome would not have been possible for their side)

In addition, it is likely that they:

6. Fought and won an important war

7. Did so under conditions of adversity – perhaps extreme adversity

8. Were opposed by a grand strategist of nearly equal stature

Finally, it would be useful if they also:

9. Actually operated in a consistent manner that was based on a logical set of strategic principles, rather than just won by the seat of their pants (otherwise, why are we discussing and studying them?)

There are other guidelines that might be mentioned as well: the size of the forces they commanded (winning a war with a 10,000 man army is vastly different from winning a war with 5,000,000), the era in which they operated (sure, Sargon the Great conquered everything in sight, but he was primarily “fighting” bronze age farmers, and his “empire” was about the size of Colorado), and the degree of control that they actually had (call this the Marshall vs Eisenhower debate), and more besides. However, these are for the most part secondary issues, and not necessarily germane to the discussion at hand.

At this point, it’s probably best to get a few disqualifications out of the way. They are listed by the above condition that dis qualifies them:

1.  Odysseus (mythical), Sun Tzu (semi historical), the British Admiralty during the Napoleonic Wars (many bright lights, but no easily identifiable source of grand strategy).

2.  von Schlieffen (yes, he fought any number of wars, but not in the one that really counted) and every other general who “missed the boat” of history.

3.  This is a big one, so I’ll just stick to some of the most prominent names: Hannibal, Pyrrhus, Pompey the Great, Heraclitus, Gustavus Adolphus, Napoleon, Lee & Jackson, Mannstein et al, etc ad nauseum. Basically, if they lost their war – regardless of the reason or of how many initial victories they had – they’re out.

4.  Clausewitz, Jomini, Liddell-Hart, Mahan and every other academic strategist who ever lived. Yes, they are bright important fellows. Most had distinguished military careers. But they weren’t anywhere near overall command. This also includes Patton, Corbulo, Marlborough, Clive, Montcalm, Schwarzkopf, Petraeus, and every other extremely talented general of a great power who has had the misfortune to live during a time of limited wars and colonial actions. Sorry boys, but if it wasn’t a total war between great powers, there wasn’t enough pressure in the cooker.

5.  MacArthur (Korea), every general Louis XIV ever had, etc. If they were fighting for a wealthy powerful state against a materially weaker state, they weren’t facing adversity, just tedium. Which is not to slight their suffering, just that casualties do not necessarily equal adversity. Nor do political complications alone. Think the Lakota Sioux or North Vietnam versus the US; THAT’S adversity.

6.  This one is trickier. You can’t automatically exclude someone just because the other side lacked talent. But consider Winfield Scott or Colin Powell. Their opponents were underpowered AND beyond incompetent. Is it fair to include them? This should raise question marks at the very least.

7.  Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and every other supremely successful semi-nomadic conqueror who ever lived. Maybe they had a formal strategy; maybe they didn’t. Since they didn’t write one down, we’ll never know. And since we can’t study them, they’re excluded.

So now that we’ve eliminated a huge slew of the more popular candidates, who’s left? A pretty damn skilled bunch, if you ask me. Alexander the Great/Parmenio, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar/Marcus Agrippa (you know you’ve pretty much won all the marbles when you get a month named after you), Belisarius, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Basil II Bulgaronctonus, Salah ad Din (Saladin), Tran Hung Dao, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Frederick the Great, Nelson/Wellington, Lincoln/Grant/Sherman, Foch, Zhukov, FDR/Marshall/Eisenhower, and Mao Zedong all come to mind. But none of them are the greatest. That title must be reserved for one man, and one man only.

George Washington

I know, I know…he lost more battles than he won. Fine. He was a mediocre general. But this essay isn’t about the greatest general of all time, it’s about the greatest grand strategist. Which he clearly is.

Consider the evidence:

When the American Revolution began, he was a rank amateur. Put bluntly, he was a tobacco farmer from the middle of nowhere Virginia with a junior record of 0-1-0 (his screw up started the French and Indian War) who was living primarily on money inherited from daddy. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he had never travelled outside of the country, he had no degree, he was a terrible conversationalist, and he had no charisma. To be perfectly honest, he was known for nothing other than being the sort of Strong Silent Type that mystified his chattier neighbors. In short, he wasn’t exactly the stuff heroes are made of.

But he did have three things going for him: a robust physical constitution, an iron sense of integrity, and an aura that allowed him to inspire men simply by frowning at them. Because of this and because of his personal wealth, the Continental Congress gave him the dubious honor of being commander-in-chief of the American armed forces.

Actually, that’s an overstatement. In actuality, he was the nominal commander of a spontaneous and unorganized volunteer force that fully expected to go home within 3 months. He had no money, no navy, and no allies. He didn’t even have a working government. Instead, he had thirteen highly disparate and selfish colonies who were united in almost nothing save that they all happened to be on the North American continent. Only about 1/3 of the population of those colonies even wanted independence, and they were solidly opposed by 1/3 who absolutely wanted to remain part of the British Empire, thank you very much.

But he was stubborn, so he determined to try anyway. He had to build his army from scratch, from a population that was notorious for eschewing things like terms of enlistment, and in the face of an enemy who was well on the way to being by far the largest empire in the history of the world. He himself had to learn the art of command as he went. Small wonder that he didn’t do so well at first. But he persevered, and in time he trained his army, found his money, wooed his allies, won his war and established his country.

And he did it all in less than ten years.

In short, he beat the British Empire. Think about that for a second, and let it really sink in: he beat the British Empire.

From the end of the Hundred Years’ War to the end of World War II, a period of almost exactly 500 years (1453-1945), the English and British fought dozens of wars, ranging in seriousness from minor border squabbles with Scotland to the Spanish Armada and the Blitz. And with a few minor and mostly forgettable exceptions (the loss of Calais, for example), they always won.

In order, the British fought and defeated the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, the Danes, and the Germans. Each was at the height of their power when they faced Britain, and none ever truly recovered from the defeat they received. Even more impressively, they did it less on the back of exceptional talent than on the basis of careful government, patient development of trade and infrastructure, and the continual triumph of policy over inspiration. The British Empire were the ultimate opponent because they weren’t wedded to the genius of one or two commanders: instead, they relied on the immense inertia of their system, which routinely lost battles but seldom lost wars.

And yet, with an amateur army, no training, and no money, George Washington did what the Spanish Armada, Napoleon, and Hitler could not. And he did so because he never became so glutted with victory on the battlefield that he lost sight of why the war was being fought in the first place. He didn’t want to fight, but he did, because he felt that the goal of the war was worth the sacrifice of the damage it caused.

Furthermore, he was utterly irreplaceable. If he had been killed, it is highly unlikely that the American Revolution would have had the entirely positive outcome that it did. Yes, the colonies may have won, but they would not have been as united, and they likely would have fallen prey to various European predation. George Washington was quite literally the cornerstone that held the American forces together.

In the end, George Washington defeated the most enduring military power in the history of the world, and decisively won his war. Afterwards, he secured his peace as well, via the Treaty of Paris and the Jay Treaty, which ensured a long and peaceful recovery for the war-ravaged United States. Later, he helped form the US Constitution, and provided a sterling example of all that a President should be during his two terms in office. When he died in 1799, he left behind a legacy that included what would become the longest-lived written constitution in history, to govern the greatest economic, cultural, and military power in the history of the world.

In short, he may not have won his battles, but he definitely won his war. He did the most, with the least, against the most redoubtable opponent of the past millennium, without taking a generation or a river of blood to do it. And he was even able to ensure a lasting peace as well.

And that makes him the greatest practitioner of grand strategy ever.

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